RBCA Land Use Committee comments about proposed University Village 25th Avenue NE garage

On September 25, the Northeast Design Review Board (DRB) held its second Early Design Guidance (EDG) meeting on the University Village proposed major phased development. The Land Use Application is to allow five new retail buildings and one, seven-story garage building with retail and parking for 880 vehicles (University Village Major Phased Development). Review includes 10,000 sq. ft. of demolition and the removal of 467 surface parking spaces.

The RBCA Land Use committee has engaged the developer and submitted its second comment letter on the project.  Two RBCA board members attended the EDG meeting to provide public comments for consideration by the DRB. The comments focused on pedestrian and bicycle safety along 25th Ave NE, and the need for developers in this area along and across 25th Ave NE to work together to make the connections between the neighborhoods and the Burke-Gilman trail safer and easier for pedestrians and cyclists. Below is the letter.

September 25, 2017

Michael Dorcy, Planner

Seattle Department Construction Inspections

Re: Project #3025629 4500 25th Ave NE; University Village West Garage

Mr. Dorcy:

The Ravenna-Bryant community is directly impacted by the proposed project, so we have taken great interest in the latest development proposal by U Village.  RBCA submitted comments in December 2016 at the first EDG meeting and now we are submitting new comments about this project, specifically related to the West garage expansion and the impact of traffic on the intersections and circulation of pedestrians, bicycles, and vehicles in the context of the significant development that is proposed on both sides of 25th Ave NE in the next couple of years.

We appreciate that the project design has evolved to address some of the concerns raised in our first comment letter, however we still have concerns relating to the public realm along 25th Ave NE and transportation generally.  Further, we greatly appreciate the efforts of the three developers in this area (U Village, Phoenix, and Greystar) to work together to make their developments complement each other and improve the overall circulation and safety for pedestrians, bicyclists and vehicles. This cooperation is imperative given the redevelopment of these blocks will provide a major opportunity to improve pedestrian orientation along 25th Ave NE and create a safer, more functional multi-modal transportation network in the area.  While 25th Ave NE is a major arterial, it is also a major pedestrian thoroughfare that has more pedestrians and bicycles using it given the connection to the light rail station less than 1 mile away and the access to the regional Burke-Gilman trail.

We list below the following bullet points to summarize our concerns:

  • Pedestrian safety on 25th Ave NE: We have three major concerns about pedestrian access and safety:
  • Garage Ingress/Egress: The DRB Recommendation Packet seems to reflect three travel lanes, including only one left-turn lane onto southbound 25th Ave NE. This is different from the four-lane option in the EDG package. We support SDOT’s position that a four-lane configuration would compromise pedestrian safety at the 47th Street intersection.
  • 49th Street Intersection: The garage entrance will eliminate one of two east-west through-connections that exist today across U Village. The remaining one, 49th Street, already seems like a dangerous access point, as 49th is an off-set intersection and there are three sets of adjacent curb cuts along the east side of 25th (U Village, Office Depot and Jiffy Lube), which present a safety hazard, in our opinion. As more cars seek to make an unprotected left into U Village, either to drop off/pick up passengers, access other garages on site, or fruitlessly search for surface parking, the additional turns will exacerbate the already challenging conditions. This potential diversion of left-hand turns to this intersection does not seem to be assumed in the Transpo report. 
  • Pedestrian experience on 25th Ave NE: We appreciate the micro-retail, which is a modest but appreciated improvement from the EDG design.  We have met with U Village and understand their programmatic and economic challenges with more providing more active street-front uses along 25th Avenue NE. However, there still will be a stretch of more than 200 linear feet from the micro-retail to 49th Street NE without any active uses. Even with the nicely appointed landscapes depicted in the design packet, the combination of arterial traffic and inactivity along the property will make for a challenging pedestrian environment. We encourage U Village to consider how to provide lighting to enhance real and perceived pedestrian safety, and to consider widening the sidewalk to allow for two parties to pass comfortably in light of the lack of eyes on the street in this location.
  • Cumulative traffic impacts from development proposed in this same vicinity:  In addition to the U Village West garage, there are two other proposals going through the EDG phase: 1) Greystar (Project #3027063) and 2) Phoenix Trailside (Project #3027312) projects. The Greystar project proposes 205 units and 140 parking stalls and the Phoenix project proposes 293 units with 286 parking stalls.  Both developments are seeking rezones from C-40 to NC2 65 or 75 and LR3 to NC2-85, respectively.  We think density done well is welcome in an urban village with as many amenities as our Ravenna Bryant neighborhood and we welcome the additional housing options.  However, these are big changes for this area and it will significantly increase the volumes of people and traffic who need to move around safely. According to the transportation study shown on Table 3, the future LOS for 13 of the 20 intersections will be at D, E or F by 2027. Currently the existing baseline shows nine intersections operating at D, E or F at this time.  Anyone driving during commute hours AM or PM peak knows that 25th Ave NE is a parking lot and traffic moves to a crawl.  We are concerned that the additional approximately 311 net new trips during the weekday PM peak hour created by the new garage only adds additional stress.  This does not even account for the increased traffic that the Greystar proposal (Project #3027063) and Phoenix’s Trailside proposal (Project #3027312) will add to the traffic on intersections and on 25th Ave NE.
  • Bicycle Connection along 47th: In part due to the Phoenix project’s pursuit of a street vacation, there is a plan for a bicycle and pedestrian connection that would run from the Burke Gilman Trail to 25th Ave NE along 47th Unfortunately, 47th is offset from the traffic light at the planned garage entrance, creating potential dual crossing of 47th and then 25th Ave NE to reach U Village from the Burke Gilman Trail. We encourage U Village to continue coordinating with Phoenix and Greystar to devise a plan, in conjunction with SDOT, that can meet the U Village’s vehicular access needs while supporting a seamless bicycle and pedestrian connection.

Thank you for considering our comments as you complete your review of University Village’s proposal and please let me know if we can answer any questions or participate in any manner as the process moves forward.

SDOT to host 35th Ave NE paving project open house October 21

Over the past several years, plans have been developed with the goal of creating a safe and pedestrian-friendly experience for neighbors wishing to walk to businesses and services on 35th Avenue NE from NE 55th Street to NE 85th Street.

Future of 35th Avenue NE Plan

Planning for the future of 35th Avenue NE public workshop circa 2014. Photo courtesy of Future of 35th Ave NE blog.

Between 2012 and 2015, the Ravenna-Bryant Community Association, the Wedgwood Community Council, and neighbors from both communities worked together to develop a plan, including  design guidelines, for creating a vibrant 35th Avenue NE.

After 3 years of public meetings, field trips, data collection, Coffee Talks, surveying, being awarded a grant from the Seattle Department of Neighborhoodsselecting a consultant team, hosting public workshops, collecting more data, the Future of 35th Ave NE Plan was released in 2015. The plan contains a streetscape toolkit that includes recommendations for making 35th Avenue NE pedestrian-friendly.

Pedestrian safety improvements along arterial roads

While the RBCA board has focused most of our mobility-related advocacy efforts on improving safety along the NE 65th Street corridor most recently, all arterial roads in the neighborhood have been identified as needing changes to make them safer for all who use them.

In a 2016 survey about neighborhood mobility concerns, pedestrian safety was the primary concern.  The most common complaint regarding pedestrian safety, as well as motorist and biker safety,  was people speeding in their cars along both arterial and residential streets. The second most common complaint was about how difficult it is to cross arterial roads and, interestingly enough, it wasn’t only pedestrians and bikers who identified this as a big problem. Motorists thought it was a problem, too. Reducing the number of speeding cars on arterial roads, like 35th Avenue NE, is one of RBCA’s priorities in our 2017 mobility safety action plan.

Seattle Bike Master Plan

Bike Master Plan in Ravenna-Bryant

The Seattle Bike Master Plan (BMP) was adopted in 2014 and includes changes to 35th Avenue NE. The BMP provides a blueprint for increasing safety features for people who use bicycles to get around the city, including NE Seattle.

On 35th Avenue NE, sharrows (shown as yellow dotted lines in the map to the left) are planned from NE 45th Street to NE 65th Street. From NE 65th Street to NE 75th Street on 35th Avenue NE protected bike lanes (blue line) are included in the plan.

In addition to increasing safety for bikers, bike lanes can reduce the speed at which cars travel and, therefore, increase safety for all who use the road, including motorists.

SDOT paving project

In NE Seattle, 35th Avenue NE is one of streets scheduled for re-paving. According to the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), paving is an opportunity to cost-effectively update street designs to promote safety, build features called for in citywide transportation plans (like the BMP), and coordinate with other projects. As part of the 35th Avenue NE paving project, SDOT is taking the opportunity to make planned changes all at once, instead of in a piecemeal manner.  The project includes re-paving most of the road, adding safety improvements, and improving reliability for transit users. Detailed information about the paving project is available online.

SDOT open house

On October 21, starting at 10:00 a.m. at the Messiah Lutheran Church, 7050 35th Ave NE, SDOT will host an open house for neighbors to learn more about the paving project.

SDOT’s conceptual view of changes to be made looking north from the corner of 35th Avenue NE and NE 55th Street.

The meeting will begin with an open house during which attendees will be able to review project boards and ask one-on-one questions.  From 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. those who would like to go on a walking tour will break up into groups and visit either NE 75th St & 35th Ave NE or NE 65th St & 35th Ave NE.

Community members are encouraged to learn more about plans that will guide changes to the 35th Avenue NE corridor within the not-so-distant future. As the population of our city continues to grow, the way people get around the neighborhood is going to change. Now is the time to become familiar with what is planned, think about how the implementation of those plans will change neighborhood mobility safety, and ensure that what is created is sustainable, supports a livable and vibrant community, and meets the needs of a diverse population.

RBCA board meets October 3

The Ravenna-Bryant Community Association board of directors will meet next week. All RBCA meetings are open to anyone interested in participating. Neighbors are encouraged to attend!

RBCA Board Meeting

Tuesday, October 3, 2017, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center

AGENDA

1. Welcome & Introductions

2. Ravenna/Cowen Park

  • Encampments
  • Drafted letter re: response to opioid crisis

3. Executive Committee Reports

Secretary’s Report

Treasurer’s Report

President’s Report

  • Old business: Draft e-vote process
  • Old business: Better Know A Board Member
  • Old business: Membership Chair vacancy
  • New business: Vote – New RBCA CUCAC representative
  • New business: Vote – Endorsement of Ravennafest

4. Committee Reports

Transportation Committee

Land Use Committee

  • University Village garage design review
  • ADUs

5. Reports from associated community groups

  • City University Advisory Council – CUCAC
  • NE District Advisory Council – NEDC
  • North Precinct Advisory Council – NPAC
  • Children’s Standing Community Advisory Council
  • Ravenna-Eckstein Advisory Board

What would it look like to walk next to the proposed University Village garage?

A Design Review Board meeting about the proposed 7-story University Village garage on 25th Avenue NE is scheduled for Monday, September 25, 8:00 p.m. at the Good Shepherd Center in Wallingford.

Here are some of the drawings of the latest design proposal from a pedestrian’s point of view.

Drawing of proposed University Village west garage. The people in this image are walking in front of the Office Depot driveway.
Walking south on 25th Avenue NE along the proposed University Village west garage.
Street view of bus stop, micro retail, and pedestrian entrance to the proposed University Village west garage.
Pedestrian passageway from 25th Ave NE through the proposed University Village west garage.
Car, bike, and pedestrian entrances to University Village at the south end of the proposed west garage. (That’s Restoration Hardware on the right.) 

All documents related to the proposed garage are available online under project 3025629. Comments about the garage design may be sent to the Design Review Board at PRC@seattle.gov.

Update: NE 65th Street Vision Zero Project

Between 2012 and April 2017, there were 232 collisions on NE 65th Street, according to information shared by SDOT during an April public meeting. All of the collisions that resulted in serious injuries or deaths involved people walking or biking.  Just last winter, an 80 year-old woman was killed walking across NE 65th Street in the crosswalk by Third Place.

In 2016, RBCA, in partnership with the Roosevelt Neighborhood Association and NE Seattle Greenways, launched the #Fix65th campaign to raise awareness of the safety problems along the NE 65th Street corridor and to call for road improvements. After conducting community outreach and gaining input from neighbors, this summer the Seattle Department of Transportation released final plans for changing the road design.

Below are plans for the area of NE 65th Street between NE Ravenna Blvd and Roosevelt Way NE as well as the section between 12th Ave NE and 20th Avenue NE.

In the Ravenna neighborhood, these are the primary changes. The only change on NE 65th Street east of 20th Avenue NE is the removal of peek parking restrictions.

More information about the project is available on SDOT’s NE 65th Street Vision Zero webpage.

RBCA board meets Tuesday

RBCA Board Meeting

Tuesday, September 5, 2017, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center

 AGENDA

Welcome & Introductions

Executive Committee Reports

  • Treasurer’s Report
  • President’s Report
    • Review of e-vote process
    • Membership Chair?
    • Board vacancies
    • RBCA-sponsored community event
    • Ravenna/Cowen Park encampments, drug use
  • Secretary’s Report:
    • July meeting minutes
    • E-vote results

Committee Reports

  • Transportation Committee
    • #Fix65th update
  • Land Use Committee
    • Trailside update
    • U-Prep expansion

Better know a board member

RBCA representation with other community organizations

  • RBCA representative needed for NPAC
  • City University Advisory Council CUCAC
  • NE District Advisory Council NEDC
  • Children’s Standing Community Advisory Council
  • Ravenna-Eckstein Advisory Board

All RBCA board meetings are open to all who are interested. Neighbors are encouraged to participate!

Registration for Night Out ends July 31

National Night Out is an annual event with the goal of increasing public safety by promoting neighborhood connections. This year, Night Out is August 1.

Neighbors are encouraged to plan block parties and can close their streets to traffic for the evening. To do so, register with the City by Monday at 5:00 p.m.

Want to see if there are events planned on your block? Check out the online map to find out.

Need materials for your event? Publicity materials are also available online.

Neighbors present proposed alternative zoning map in response to MHA environmental impact statement

A group of Ravenna neighbors participated in the July 11, 2017 RBCA board meeting and shared their comments about the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). In addition to requesting that the RBCA board include their comments in any communication they may have with the City regarding the DEIS, it was requested that their comments be posted to the RBCA website.

Below are their drafted comments which include a suggested alternative to zoning changes proposed in the DEIS. Thoughts about the proposal below may be left after the post. (Please note that the comments section is moderated and new comments may not immediately appear, especially if moderators are on vacation.)

To: Office of Planning and Community Development

Re: Comments to the MHA DEIS issued by the city of Seattle on June 8, 2017

We support Seattle’s effort to increase affordable housing and supports the MHA inclusionary zoning policy, the subject of the DEIS. In addition, since we support efforts to make Seattle more equitable, not just the Urban Villages, we request an Alternative 4 described herein be included in the Action Alternatives.

We strongly support requiring MHA developers in areas designated “high opportunity” to be required to include affordable units in their developments, rather than contribute a fee, as this policy will more directly ensure that affordable units are distributed equitably in the City, and minimize displacement.

Alternative 4, Part One:  Where appropriate, do transitions outside of Urban Villages, implement appropriate zoning within the adjacent SF neighborhood, rather than move the Urban Village Boundary or Expand the Urban Village

We affirm much of the increased zoning proposed in OPCD’s October 2017 Plan, and parts of Alternatives 2 and 3 of the DEIS, as clarified below.  In exchange for the new zoning, and in response to neighborhood concerns, and adverse impacts identified in the DEIS, we believe the MHA program goals can be better accomplished by creating a more effective transition between the Roosevelt Urban Village and Ravenna outside of the Urban Village, while keeping the Roosevelt Urban Village eastern boundary along the current border of 15th Ave NE and not expanding the Urban Village to the east.   

Alternative 4, Part Two: Allocate Planning Resources to SF neighborhoods who want to plan proactively for expansion of housing opportunities in their neighborhoods

We propose to study options for increasing housing opportunities in the broader community of Ravenna/Bryant. This policy would reward neighborhoods who want to plan proactively, could extend the reach of the MHA; create more walkable neighborhood business districts; more family-size, ground related, mixed-income housing in the neighborhood.  

Summary of support for proposed zoning changes and clarifications: The attached map provides an overview of zoning changes we are proposing east of 15th Avenue NE where the Ravenna and Roosevelt neighborhoods meet.

North of NE 65th:

  1. Adopt OPCD’s proposed rezoning from SF to LR3 along the East side of 15th Ave NE from NE 65th to NE 68th St. (same as OPCD Plan & Alternative 3, higher than Alternative 2). Our design preference would be row houses with backyards to provide more room for the tree canopy and storm water retention, and create a better buffer for lower zoning to the east.
  2. Adopt modified proposed new zoning from SF to LR-1 along the West side of 16th Ave NE from NE 65th to NE 68th. (change from OPCD & Alt 3 LR -2, but higher than Alt. 2)
  3. Change RSL to SF from the East side of NE 16th Ave to the West side of NE 17th (including the commercial on NE 65th except for the existing NC-40 on 15th Ave NE. )*

South of NE 65th

  1. Keep Existing NC-40-55 south of NE 65th St along from 15th Ave. NE (same as all options)
  2. Retain SF south of existing NC-40-55 zoning as SF along 16th Ave NE and 15th Ave NE.
  3. *Change all RSL to SF because current policy restricts RSL to Urban Villages
Map showing zoning changes proposed by neighbors in response to MHA DEIS.

Description of Impacts, Mitigation, and Comparisons of Action Alternatives

The proposed changes pertain to local conditions that will result in better, more gradual transitions between MF and SF and will mitigate concerns about land use impacts of bulk and scale, shade, and solar access.  Not changing the Boundary will also mitigate impacts to historical resources; aesthetics, transportation & parking, as well as better protect the tree canopy, Ravenna Ravine and Creek and improve storm water management.  Concurrently accepting many of the proposed changes in zoning will provide increases in density, promote needed redevelopment of 15th Ave NE and create new opportunities for MHA affordable units. The local impacts and mitigations are described below as well as a comparison of the Action Alternatives.

The current boundary of 15th Ave NE makes better sense than 16th or 17th Ave NE. The proposed expansion area of the Roosevelt Urban Village is relatively small just one or two blocks east, except for a small sliver in Alternative 3 along the main arterial NE 65th from 16th Ave NE to 20th Ave NE.   Boundaries normally are articulated on arterials, not on narrow residential streets, such as 16th or 17th Ave NE.  In the case of the Roosevelt Urban Village, better, more legible, gradual transitions between urban village densities and SF can be created outside of the urban village, rather than changing the boundary.

The proposed zoning provides a better transition from urban form to SF. The zoning is identical to Alternative 3 in the step down from the Urban Village on west side of 15th Ave,  north of 65th where a new 7 story building is being permitted next to Roosevelt High School, to L-3 on the East side of 15th .  We then propose to L-1 on the West side of 16th.  LR-1 makes a better transition in bulk and scale than LR2 to SF owners who choose to remain in the LR-1 zone on 16th, and to the SF across the street on the east side of 16th Ave NE.  Accepting the up-zones preserves the same potential for MHA affordable units and density on 15th, and slightly less on 16th than Alternative 3, but provides significantly more on both streets than Alternative 2 or Alternative 1.  North of 65th is closer to the light rail station and school than the area south of 65th, where the heights across the street in the urban village are lower. The northern end of the West side of 16th is buffered from the LR3 zone by a joint access alley.The houses on the southern end of 16th are already facing a transition to NC40, a remnant of the older zoning preference in Seattle of putting most MF on arterials. Additionally, south of 65th, the proposed expansion of NC-40(55) from SF is too stark a transition and the group has proposed keeping it as single family. 

Alternative 2, which proposes RSL on 15th and 16th, would be more compatible in height and bulk to SF, but not necessarily compatible with the established architectural and urban form, and would not produce as many MHA affordable units. The difference between SF, if the boundary remained at 15th under the Sub-Alternative, and the proposed RSL in the Expansion proposed under Alternative 2 or 3 would not be significant. Many of the lots in the area are either too small to support an additional house, or because of the placement of the house on the lot, would require tearing down the existing house and many houses would likely be too expensive and/or sufficiently upgraded to meet current code, energy, seismic, and technology standards to be feasibly redeveloped as RSL within the 20-year framework of EIS analysis.  This area already has ADU’s in the area, a more likely scenario to create affordable housing in this area.

Proposed increased zoning on NE 65th St needs further study. Alternative 3 proposes expansion along NE 65th to 20th.  This area of 65th is topographically challenged as there is a steep slope up the hill from 16th Ave NE to the crest of the hill at 18th, and then an even steeper descent to 20th.  There are no alleys serving the north side of NE 65th, both of these factors are noted in the DEIS to potentially be mitigated by adopting less intensive use. (3.121). This idea currently has some interest in the community but needs further study. 

Community Planning recommended by DEIS as mitigation for land use impacts. The DEIS specifically mentions that the current criteria for land use rezones may not be met in Roosevelt (p. 3.118), and that mitigation measures might include, “address potential land use impacts as part of neighborhood level planning efforts.” (p. 3.120) Currently, only areas in Urban Villages have access to city planning resources, and the Alternative Part Two would help areas like Ravenna/Bryant do local level planning.

Neighborhood Design Guidelines Recommended by DEIS

Historic Ravenna, which includes parts of Bryant, has a consistent, established architectural urban form, and is one of Seattle’s well-preserved “bungalow” neighborhoods. Since many homes in Ravenna/Bryant are historic Craftsmen houses, concerns for historical resources and aesthetics have been expressed by neighbors, impacts which have also been identified in the DEIS.  One mitigation measure suggested in the DEIS is Neighborhood Design Guidelines, which Ravenna/Bryant does not currently have.  (3.165) This is another potential benefit to having neighborhoods do proactive planning.

 Alternative 3 expansion along NE 65th to 20th Ave NE needs further study.  As mentioned before, there is some interest in the community; specifically to expand LR1, 1 block north and south along NE 65th from 16th Ave NE to 20 Ave NE. The goal is to promote more rapid redevelopment by creating development pathways that work for single lots because in the current intense real estate market for single family houses waiting for two or more adjacent lots to be assembled could stall development.  NE 65th is the most logical walking corridor to the light rail station and could connect the business districts of Ravenna and Roosevelt. 

Before embracing this idea, more study is needed because of current neighborhood safety concerns about this particular stretch of NE 65th that may or may not be addressed by SDOT’s NE 65th Street Vision Zero Project.

Parking is also a concern of many neighbors.  The residential streets are very narrow, and many of the old houses do not have garages, so there is already crowded street parking.  This is especially intense on 16th, which has parking on only one side of the street and is often used by students going to Roosevelt.  Not moving the boundary of the Roosevelt Urban village will provide parking for the incoming residents, mitigating the impact of the new development.

Historical Resources: Ravenna is one of the older neighborhoods in Seattle, resulting in a treasured collection of historic, architecturally significant Craftsmen and Tudor houses, with some Mid-Century homes.  The area has not yet been surveyed and therefore potentially historical resources would be lost as development occurs.  The DEIS describes “potential decreases to the historic fabric of a neighborhood” when historic buildings are redeveloped or demolished and new buildings are constructed “that are not architecturally sympathetic to the existing historic characteristics of a neighborhood.” (3.252)  Since there is significant, but not universal, concern in the neighborhood about this issue, it is another reason to not extend the boundary of the urban village before the opportunity is lost to preserve what is most important.

Biological Resources Tree Canopy and Environmentally Critical Areas (ECA)

Seattle’s urban forest, mostly located in Seattle’s SF zones, provides many ecological services such as relief from the urban heat island, cleaning our air and water, and helping with storm water management, as well as being described in the DEIS as “fundamental to the character of Seattle.” All Action Alternatives will result in loss of the tree canopy according to the DEIS.  Indirect impacts are identified as “changes to stream flows from upstream development” (3.263); cumulative effects of multiple parties actions could potentially alter drainage patterns and/or affect soil and slope stability, and discharges to streams may be impacted by runoff of pollutants from street surfaces. (3.265)  Cumulative effects are critical in evaluating future impacts, one construction project may be nothing, many may mean disaster.

Per the pattern of the Programmatic DEIS, these impacts are characterized as not significant city wide because of the relative small amount of acreage.  (3.2700)  No study specific to the impacts to the Ravenna Park riparian corridor and steep slopes is cited though there have already been problems of erosion and sink holes adjacent to the park.  Ravenna Creek is a bit of an anomaly because its original source of water from Green Lake was cut off and diverted to sewer pipes when the Olmstead Brothers created Green Lake Park, thus leaving very local water table sources to provide the flow of the creek. 

On a city wide basis, the pattern of growth also needs to be assessed as to whether buffers of SF areas with tree canopy are needed between urban densities that take account of the watersheds as well as just counting acreage.  There is no study cited that looks at the future green infrastructure map in comparison with the projections for increasing urban densities and what  appropriate policy would  integrate them.  It is assumed that the Urban Tree Plan protections will suffice, but a new Tree plan is under development to patch recognized deficiencies.     The area to the south of 65 Ave NE nearest to the Park is especially important to protect trees to better protect the source of the flow, and to help with storm water management from the city streets.

Ravenna/Bryant has a combined sewer and storm water system which contributes to the CSO overflows and limits the capacity of West Point Sewage treatment plant to function in the new normal of heavier rain storms due to climate change.  The city has spent millions of dollars on concrete holding tanks as solutions to this problem, rather than adopting much cheaper Low Impact development methods.  

The RBCA board is currently considering these comments and the alternative zoning proposal as part of their review of the MHA DEIS.

What do you think of proposed zoning changes in Ravenna? Let the City know by August 7

In the fall of 2015, the City of Seattle began a process of updating land use plans (Comprehensive Plan)  and implementing new ones (the Mayor’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda).

Comprehensive Plan

The Comprehensive Plan includes an Urban Village Strategy that promotes growth in areas that have places for people to work, live, shop, and access services in close proximity to one another. According to the plan, “Locating more residents, jobs, stores and services in close proximity can reduce the reliance on cars for shopping and other daily trips and decrease the amount of fossil fuels burned and the amount of greenhouse gases emitted. Increasing residential and employment densities in key locations makes transit and other public services convenient for more people and therefore makes these services more efficient.”

Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda

As part of the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA), in 2016 the Mayor unveiled the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) proposal that requires that new multifamily residential development contribute to affordable housing, either with affordable homes in the building or payments to help construct them throughout the city. The MHA framework was adopted a year ago for residential development and, to implement that framework, proposals for rezoning parts of neighborhoods throughout the city are currently being considered. Much, but not all, of the rezones are being proposed in urban villages and urban centers.

In December, the Roosevelt Neighborhood Association (RNA) and the Department of Neighborhoods hosted public meetings that provided information and solicited public input about the proposed rezone of the Roosevelt Urban Village, including a proposed expansion of the Urban Village boundary east of 15th Avenue NE into the Ravenna neighborhood.

Environmental Impact Statement

Last month, a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) about possible MHA changes was released. The EIS includes updated proposals for zoning changes, including proposals for expanding the Roosevelt Urban Village into the Ravenna neighborhood. For each neighborhood, three proposals are made:

  • Alternative 1 – no changes to zoning;
  • Alternative 2 – implementing MHA based on original planning concepts included in the Comprehensive Plan and the MHA framework.
  • Alternative 3 – implementing MHA and specifically considering displacement risks and access to opportunities in each neighborhood.

Growth & Equity Analysis

Seattle has a long history of being a segregated city. Thanks in large part to redlining activities by financial, insurance, and other companies, as well as neighborhood covenants, many neighborhoods, including Ravenna-Bryant, excluded African Americans and other people of color from living in them. To decrease segregation throughout the city, the EIS includes an equity analysis to help inform decisions about land use policy changes.

As part of the EIS, the City assessed in which neighborhoods marginalized residents can attain resources, opportunities, and outcomes that improve quality of life and enable them to reach their full potential. Displacement was one outcome of growth that was assessed. Most of Ravenna-Bryant was identified as being at low risk of displacement.

Displacement Risk Index map is available online.

The EIS also included an assessment of access to opportunity within neighborhoods. Access to opportunity includes measures related to education, transit, economic opportunity, civic infrastructure, and public health. Ravenna-Bryant has a great deal of opportunity accessible to those who live and work here.

Access to Opportunity map is available online.

Maps outlining proposed zoning changes in Alternatives 2 and 3 were released with the EIS. Below are the maps for proposed Roosevelt Urban Village changes including changes in the Ravenna neighborhood.

Alternative 2 in Ravenna

All proposed zoning change maps are available online.

This alternative proposes expanding the Roosevelt Urban Village east to 16th Avenue NE north of NE 63rd Street and south of NE 68th Street. Land that is currently zoned Singe Family (SF) would be rezoned to Residential Small Lot (RSL) and Neighborhood Commercial 2-40 (NC2-40) zones would become NC2-55 zones, increasing allowable building heights by 15 feet.

Alternative 3 in Ravenna

Since Ravenna is considered a neighborhood with low displacement risk and with high access to opportunity, Alternative 3 proposes additional housing capacity changes. Zoning changes on 16th Avenue NE would extend north to 70th Avenue NE and south to NE 62nd Street. A variety of zoning designations are proposed including Lowrise 1, Lowrise, 2, Lowrise 3, and additional NC2-55. Zoning along 17th Avenue NE would change south of NE 68th Street from SF to RSL. Zoning designations along NE 65th Street between the Roosevelt neighborhood and the Ravenna business district would change from SF to Lowrise 1.

What’s next?

The City extended the public comment period to August 7th for the MHA draft EIS.  Below are more helpful links to information provided by the City regarding this new policy:

  • Draft EIS Summary Chapter This summarizes the findings for each topic in the EIS, such as Housing, Land Use, Aesthetics, and Transportation, among others. At 37 pages, it’s a good way to read an overview of the analysis and discussion of impacts contained in the full Draft EIS.
  • June 29 Public Hearing boards A public hearing was held on June 29 at City Hall where the public could make comment on the Draft EIS. These boards explain what is in the Draft EIS and some of its key findings.

How to Comment

Use an online form.

By email: MHA.EIS@seattle.gov.

By US mail:

Office of Planning and Community Development
Attn: MHA EIS
PO Box 34019
Seattle, WA 98124-4019

RBCA board meets Tuesday

RBCA Board Meeting

Tuesday, July 11, 2017, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Harissa, 2255 NE 65th Street

AGENDA

6:30: Welcome & Introductions

6:35: Executive Committee Reports

6:45: Committee Reports

  • Transportation Committee
    • NE 50th Street Sidewalk Project
  • Land Use Committee

8:00: Board member introductions

8:10: Reports from associated groups

All RBCA meetings are open to everyone. Neighbors are encouraged to participate.

Early plans shared for development between 25th Avenue NE and the Burke-Gilman Trail

During RBCA’s June 22 land use public meeting, neighbors learned about three new developments planned for 25th Avenue NE at University Village, across the street where Travelodge and Key Bank are currently located, and between the Burke-Gilman Trail and Travelodge.

For the site next to the Burke-Gilman Trail, draft early design review documents are available online, project 3027312. Preliminary drawings show what the “Trailside” development, which will provide student targeted housing, might look like. It includes a projected 293 residential units and 2,075 square feet of retail space.

A preliminary site plan for the Travelodge/Key Bank site is also available online, project 3027063. The project includes housing and retail.

During the June 22 meeting, developers expressed an interest in creating a seamless bike and pedestrian connection from the Burke-Gilman Trail, across 25th Avenue NE, to University Village.

Thursday night, learn about 3 planned developments on 25th Avenue NE

The RBCA Land Use Committee is hosting a public meeting Thursday to preview several development proposals along 25th Ave NE at U Village and Travelodge sites.  Specifically, you will hear from University Village, Greystar (developer for the Travelodge site), and Phoenix (developer for a new residential project behind the Travelodge site.) The goal of the meeting is to provide community members with a holistic view of proposed development slated for 25th Ave NE on these several blocks.  We would like to hear from the community, so come give your feedback at the meeting or leave a comment after this post and learn about the changes happening in our neighborhood.

RBCA & RNA ask SDOT to make more safety changes to NE 65th Street

A year ago, neighbors marched along NE 65th Street in the Ravenna and Roosevelt neighborhoods to increase awareness about the many pedestrians, bikers, and motorists who had been sent to the hospital after being involved in collisions on NE 65th Street. The march launched the #Fix65th campaign started by the Ravenna-Bryant Community Association (RBCA), Roosevelt Neighborhood Association (RNA), and NE Seattle Greenways.

June 16, 2016 at the corner of NE 65th Street and 15th Avenue NE. Photo thanks to the Roosevelt Neighborhood Association @roosieseattle

Since then, two pedestrians were killed while crossing in marked crosswalks on NE 65th Street, one in the Ravenna neighborhood and one in the Roosevelt neighborhood.

Since then, the Seattle Department of Transportation launched a NE 65th Street Vision Zero project that included two community forums and some short-term improvements to the road. Plans are being made for further improvements in 2019.

However, RBCA continues to be concerned about the safety of our neighbors who walk, bike, and drive on NE 65th Street. While the short-term improvements are certainly welcome, RBCA is concerned that more people will be seriously injured and killed before large-scale improvements are made.

Today, in partnership with RNA, RBCA sent a letter to City officials in follow-up to the letter sent last July:

June 16, 2017

Dear Mayor Murray and Councilmembers Johnson and O’Brien,

In July of 2016 the Ravenna Bryant Community Association and Roosevelt Neighborhood Association sent a letter expressing our neighborhoods significant safety concerns regarding NE 65th Street and requesting a study of the corridor. We outlined specific issues that needed to be addressed as follows:

Excessive speeding and a lack of enforcement

Insufficient number of safe crossings

Long waits for walk signals

Driving lane orientation

Dangerous intersections

Unsafe sidewalks

Unsafe bicycle infrastructure

Insufficient parking

In response, SDOT committed to fixes that would come in two stages, with quick, short-term fixes happening in 2017. More comprehensive improvements would occur in 2019. The 2017 changes, which are now complete, involved repainting crosswalks, making traffic signals larger, adding flex posts at 65th and Roosevelt, and reducing the speed limit to 25 mph in the Roosevelt business district. But other than the flex posts, we consider this work to be essential maintenance on aging infrastructure.

Increased density along NE 65th Street is not going to wait for 2019. Seattle In Progress shows at least 650 new housing units being built adjacent to 65th, and approximately 1,000 more units pending approval. Most of those buildings include retail and a limited number of parking spaces. The next two years will see dramatically increasing numbers of residents and visitors traveling the corridor by foot, bike, bus, and car.

In the year since we submitted the above referenced letter, two people have died and two more have suffered life-threatening injuries. All of these tragedies have occurred at intersections over a one mile stretch of NE 65th Street and yet there are no further safety improvements planned for two more years. SDOT’s Community Forum on May 18th did not even include potential safety treatments at intersections or future crosswalks, two of the neighborhood’s greatest concerns as determined in surveys by RBCA and SDOT alike.

The short-term fixes are inadequate and fail to address the most dangerous aspects of NE 65th Street. We are painfully aware of what two years can mean for members of our community and are not willing to accept what has been done as an adequate response to a persistent danger to our community. We formally request that the scope of completed work be reviewed and further short-term treatments be developed to address intersections and crossings before the end of July with follow-up work to be completed before the end of the summer.

Respectfully,

Ravenna-Bryant Community Association

Roosevelt Neighborhood Association

Northeast District Council hosts mayoral candidates forum tomorrow night

The Northeast District Council (NEDC) invites you to meet candidates running for Seattle Mayor at 7:00 p.m. Thursday, June 8, 2017 at Wedgwood Presbyterian Church located at the corner of 35th Avenue NE and NE 80th Street.

Candidates participating include:

Jenny Durkan

Jessyn Farrell

Bob Hasegawa

Michael McGinn

Cary Moon

Nikkita Oliver

The event timeline:

7-8:00 p.m. Candidates introduce themselves and address the question of how they will serve Seattle’s diversity of citizens: age group; neighborhood; income; ethnic background, etc.

8-9:00 p.m. Questions taken from the audience

RBCA board meets Tuesday

RBCA Board Meeting

Tuesday, June 6, 2017, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center

 AGENDA

6:30: Welcome & Introductions

6:35: Seattle City Council candidate Hisam Goueli

6:45: Natalie Quick – Plan for new apartments next to Burke-Gilman

7:15: Roosevelt Urban Village

7:30: Executive Committee Reports

  • Secretary’s Report: Minutes, Board member contact info
  • Treasurer’s Report
  • President’s Report
    • 6-month workplan check-in
    • Summer meetings: July date/place, August break
    • CM Johnson D4 meeting

7:40:  Committee Reports

  • Land Use Committee
    • June 22 Public Meeting re: University Village
    • Cell Phone Tower Update
  • Transportation Committee
    • NE 65th Street Vision Zero Project
    • NE 50th Street Sidewalk Project
  • Membership Committee
    • Board member “introductions”

8:10: Conflict of interest clause

Disclosure of Interests – Disclosure of interests and affiliations of Board Members will help mitigate the appearance of a conflict of interest. Board Members will disclose any interest or affiliation that creates conflict or may cause an appearance of conflict.

Conflict of Interest and Recusal- Board Members will disclose any actual conflicts of interest. A member who has recused himself or herself from a matter before the Board due to a conflict of interest will refrain from participation in Board discussions or votes on the matter, if any.

8:20: Reports from associated groups

All RBCA board meetings are open to the public and all neighbors are encouraged to participate!